April 1, 2004 Regular News Pariente to lead court Pariente to lead court In the 1970s, she was one of South Florida’s pioneering women trial lawyers in a profession then almost entirely controlled by men. In 1997, she became only the second woman justice named to the Florida Supreme Court.Barbara J. Pariente, 55, advanced that career to the highest judicial office in state government March 17 when the members of the Florida Supreme Court announced that they had unanimously elected her chief justice for a two-year term beginning July 1.Pariente will be Florida’s 51st chief justice since statehood was granted in 1845 and only the second woman to lead the Florida State Courts.She takes office on a day historic for yet another reason: July 1 is the day when, under a 1998 constitutional amendment, funding for the state courts will be largely unified within the state budget. This replaces an earlier funding system in which county governments picked up a substantial part of the bill.“Of course, the first priority of my administration necessarily will be to ensure that the shift to unified funding goes as smoothly as possible with minimum disruption to what already is an outstanding trial court system,” Pariente said. “That is why, instead of being sworn in on July 1, I intend to join with my predecessor that day to honor the many judges, staff members, and others who have worked so hard over so many years on such a monumental shift in the State Courts’ operations.”Pariente will take the oath of office at an official “Passing of the Gavel” ceremony that will be held the morning of July 2. She replaces current Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead.Other issues on the future chief justice’s agenda include an interest that has spanned her entire career — her passionate concern for assisting families and children in the courts. Since joining the Supreme Court, Pariente has worked with or led a number of committees and projects concerned with the legal needs of families, children who come to courts on juvenile or other matters, and successful alternatives to incarceration such as treatment-based drug courts that have aided families in getting help for addictions.“Families are the basis of our communities and the most important part of most everyone’s life,” Pariente said. “But sometimes troubled families can be genuinely helped by court processes that take into account the multitude of the family’s underlying problems.”Pariente is actively working to promote the concept of a unified family court based on management techniques adapted from private-sector models and promoted by organizations like the National Center for State Courts. These techniques include using case managers to coordinate cases and ensure that they progress at a reasonable rate, as well as more intensive management of more complex cases. The unified family court managers also help ensure that a single family’s cases are heard by the same judge to minimize conflicting results.“In a phrase, the unified family court ensures that the lines of communication between the court, the family, and the community do not fail,” she said. “This is important because a single family may have one member with an addiction problem, another with a juvenile problem, and other problems such as domestic violence or the need to place children into temporary state care. In the past, these different aspects of a single family’s overall problems were not always well coordinated.”The unified family courts already in place in Florida have demonstrated that they can be far more efficient both in terms of the use of judicial resources and impact on the quality of life of the family itself, Pariente said.“But it is important to understand,” she added, “that the unified family court is not a specialized or separate court but rather a method for judges and their staffs to better handle cases involving families and children.”With an undergraduate degree in communications, Pariente also plans to work during her administration to improve communications between all three branches of government.Justice Pariente was born in New York, New York. She graduated from Boston University in 1970. She then attended George Washington University Law School, graduating in 1973 and then moving to Florida.Pariente is married to Judge Frederick A. Hazouri of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Together, they have three grown children and six grandchildren.
- July 1, 2004 Notices
- In Memoriam